Congratulations to four employees who received the Excellence Award for February 2013:

  • Connie Bailey, certified occupational therapy assistant, Fruit Valley, Lake Shore, and Sacajawea elementary schools
  • Andy Berhow, teacher, Fort Vancouver High School
  • Denise Brinster, teacher, Hazel Dell Elementary School
  • Anita Garcia, paraeducator, McLoughlin Middle School

Her sense of humor keeps her colleagues in stitches, but her consistency, high expectations, insight and skill have earned Connie this Excellence Award. Connie’s work ethic, team-player mentality and respect for all staff are always evident. Students are eager to show off their new skills to Connie or say hello in the hallway because they know that she cares about their performance and growth. Her ability to assess students’ needs and then help them accomplish their goals is also masterful. Many times students forget the challenge of learning new skills because they’re having too much fun! It’s no wonder that Connie’s colleagues and students think she’s a worthy recipient of this award.

“He inspires you, challenges you, and you end up learning a ton when you don’t even realize it!” one student says of Andy’s infectious enthusiasm for the school and video production. Andy films a variety of Fort events, from theater productions to live sports, and produces the popular “Daves’ Kitchen” cooking show. He has also served as a Southwest Washington SkillsUSA regional coordinator and hosted conferences designed to involve students in leadership activities. Under his guidance, students learn not only video-production skills, but also the value of collaboration and self-esteem. Everyone who has been lucky enough to learn from Andy has found in him a mentor who leads by example and makes student achievement possible!
The proud alumni of Denise’s second-grade classroom and their parents reflect fondly on the academic skills and character lessons learned under her tutelage. “She is a really good teacher. I love how she encouraged me to read,” writes one former student. “Ms. Brinster taught our class a lot about volunteering with our project for the Animal Shelter…. It was really fun,” says another. Adds a parent/volunteer, “When she looks at the children, you can see how much she cares for their well-being, and you can see the pride in her eyes as they grow and develop their skills, both socially and academically…. That is the kind of teacher I want with my children every day.”
In the classroom, Anita is more than simply a paraeducator; she’s a partner teacher and advocate for English language learners. As an English language learner herself, Anita understands these students’ needs and is willing to do whatever it takes to meet them. During a unit on integers, for example, Anita made number lines for students in order to help them understand adding and subtracting negative numbers. Another time, a student needing assistance with the vocabulary in a homework assignment on metric and customary units of measure received a one-on-one lesson from Anita before school. These are but a few stories of her commitment to McLoughlin’s students, but it’s clear just how much she cares about their success.

Congratulations to these staff members!

February 2013 Excellence Awards

From left: Denise Brinster, Connie Bailey, Andy Berhow and Anita Garcia